A MUSEUM boss has compared the recovery of valuable artefacts snatched in a raid to the return of “two lost family members”.
Dr Craig Barclay, curator of Durham University’s museums, said he jumped for joy and repeated his thanks to detectives after they found the jade bowl and figurine at the weekend.
Durham Constabulary are remaining tight-lipped over the discovery, but have confirmed the items, which date back to the Qing dynasty and could have been displayed in an Imperial palace, were found concealed in the Brandon area of the city.
They are now being held as exhibits as part of the investigation into the break-in on April 5 and will be examined by experts to find out if they have been damaged.
“We are absolutely ecstatic,” said Dr Barclay.
“It’s absolutely wonderful news for everybody at the museum and everybody at the university is grateful to the police for all the efforts they have made to ensure these pieces were recovered.
“It’s like two members of the family who were on an extended Easter break coming back, so we’re very much looking forward to welcoming them back when the police have completed the investigation and will put them back on display.”
Dr Barclay said that when he received the call from police he “jumped up and down and punched the air”.
The jade bowl, which dates back to 1769, features dragons and is inscribed with a poem, while the figuring shows fairies and is made of porcelain.
A hole cut by the thieves into the wall of the museum, off Elvet Hill, has been repaired.
The venue is open again and is reviewing its security measures.
Durham Police’s Chief Constable Jon Stoddart said: “While I cannot comment on the ongoing enquiries, I can say that these items were recovered as a result of excellent work by Durham Constabulary.”
Police thanked the public for responding to appeals for reports of suspicious activity in and around Durham City at the time of the incident.
Detectives still need to speak to two men from Walsall, Adrian Stanton and Lee Wildman, in connection with the theft.
Five people have been arrested in relation to the incident.
Posters printed by the police in relation to the theft have been displayed in Brandon and Langley Moor, as men and cars officers want to trace are believed to have been in the villages.